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Old 23-10-2021, 06:51   #1
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Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

Quick question: we want to detail our 37' sloop above the waterline. One quote is $1000, and another quote is $1800. The difference is whether the surfaces get "compounded".

The $1000 quote gets us a wash/scrub and a wax, with some various other treatments (stainless, eisenglass, etc). The $1800 guys says, "Nope, you've got to remove the oxidation, or the wax won't stick." So he wants to buff/compound the smooth areas between cleaning and waxing.

Condition of surfaces: overall very good! It's a late-model boat. But it's been in FL for 10 months now. When you rub your hand over the surface, you get a white, chalky hand. Not a lot, but still...

I don't want to pay extra for the buffing if it's not needed. On the other hand, I don't want to pay the cheaper price for a waxing that proves to be ineffective.

So the question is, "Will wax stick to a clean but oxidized surface?"
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Old 23-10-2021, 07:32   #2
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

You do not want to wax over oxidized gelcoat. The wash/scrub will likely remove much of the oxidation, then the use of a cleaner/wax should be adequate when applied with a buffer/polisher. The $1800 guy is offering a much better job, both prices seem reasonable for a 37' boat.
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Old 23-10-2021, 07:38   #3
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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Originally Posted by PaintedKite View Post
... I don't want to pay extra for the buffing if it's not needed. On the other hand, I don't want to pay the cheaper price for a waxing that proves to be ineffective.

So the question is, "Will wax stick to a clean but oxidized surface?"
I don't think you're asking the right question.
I'd ask: "Do I want to restore my hull's shine?"
If so, you've got to remove the dirt & oxidation, without driving it further into the pores of the gelcoat.
Waxing and polishing, without proper cleaning, only coats the oxidation, allowing it to continue under the wax layer.

1affiah said it well.
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Old 23-10-2021, 07:39   #4
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

In my experience, good wax will stick, but you won't get the new boat shine you're looking for. On the other hand, compounding takes away a layer of your gelcoat. Do that too often and you're looking at fiberglass.


It may be the cheap guy in me, but that sounds like a lot of money to spend for what you can do yourself in an afternoon. Wax isn't forever, either. Are you going to spend that money every four months or so to keep it up?



Buy yourself a couple of cans of Woody Wax, which is spray and goes on easily. You can wash and wax the deck in a few hours. Use your dinghy to do the hull.


Repeat a couple of times a year.
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Old 23-10-2021, 07:58   #5
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

Please post any documented testing that demonstrates waxes protection of gelcoat.



Not trying to be snarky. I've never seen a test that attempted to document anything other than shine or water repellancy, which in no way relate to relate to long term protection. For example, similar long-tern testing has been done on soft vinyl windows and showed no measurable effect.


I'd just like to see actual data. It seem like it must exist, but I can't seem to find it for paint or gelcoat. Waxing certainly keeps the gel coat shiny longer, but does it actually last longer? I've seen some ancient hulks that still had solid gelcoat. What is the NPV of 30 years of annual waxing and compounding?
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Old 23-10-2021, 08:27   #6
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

Aaah, Thinwater, have you ever bought a new car and not waxed it?


My wife conducted this experiment before meeting me and getting a regular car waxer in the bargain. It's a costly lesson. The paint and clearcoat will be irreparably damaged in a couple of years.



On the other hand, I have owned cars for 10 years in Florida's damaging sun that still gleamed with regular wax jobs. A quick look around a marina can also tell you which boats are waxed regularly and which ones are neglected.


Observation is a valued tool in science. You don't always need a formal study.



It's not as simple as UV protection. Wax shields paint/gelcoat from various harmful elements in the environment that will otherwise degrade them. Once it starts degrading, UV accelerates the process.
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Old 23-10-2021, 09:06   #7
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
I don't think you're asking the right question.
I'd ask: "Do I want to restore my hull's shine?"
If so, you've got to remove the dirt & oxidation, without driving it further into the pores of the gelcoat.
Waxing and polishing, without proper cleaning, only coats the oxidation, allowing it to continue under the wax layer...
Thx for the input, but restoring my hull's shine is not at all what I'm interested in. My hull never "shined", per se. I just want it to look appealing and well-maintained. And I want it to be protected. And I want to get solid bang for my buck.

And, yes, all alternatives start with cleaning. Sorry if none of this was clear originally.
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Old 23-10-2021, 09:09   #8
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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Buy yourself a couple of cans of Woody Wax, which is spray and goes on easily. You can wash and wax the deck in a few hours. Use your dinghy to do the hull...
<sigh>
I don't want to do that. I am not located near the boat.

That's why the original question was not, "How can I wash and wax my boat myself."
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Old 23-10-2021, 09:17   #9
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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... you've got to remove the dirt & oxidation, without driving it further into the pores of the gelcoat.
The guys said they would start with a thorough cleaning. From what you write here, though, it sounds like this may be trickier than one might anticipate.

What method, tools & products do you use to remove dirt & oxidation without driving it into the gelcoat?

For a car, I've used clay for this. But that was tedious ... and it was a very small car! Can't imagine "claying" an entire boat of this size.
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Old 23-10-2021, 09:25   #10
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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Aaah, Thinwater, have you ever bought a new car and not waxed it?

I have never waxed a new car. They don't seem to mind and last just as long. No paint failures, and I generally keep them more than 10 years.

My wife conducted this experiment before meeting me and getting a regular car waxer in the bargain. It's a costly lesson. The paint and clearcoat will be irreparably damaged in a couple of years.

On the other hand, I have owned cars for 10 years in Florida's damaging sun that still gleamed with regular wax jobs. A quick look around a marina can also tell you which boats are waxed regularly and which ones are neglected.

I really don't care about gleam. It does not affect sailing. Gleaming decks are unsafe.



Observation is a valued tool in science. You don't always need a formal study.

If the observation is controlled, it is science. If the right things are not measured and there are inadequate controls in place (in this case, an identical unit not waxed),it is the basis of mythology at best and misinformation at worst. Our culture is full of beliefs based on poor or distorted observation. Observer bias is a big part of the problem. We see what we want to believe. Proper controls and quantitative measurement force us to compare accurately.

It's not as simple as UV protection. Wax shields paint/gelcoat from various harmful elements in the environment that will otherwise degrade them. Once it starts degrading, UV accelerates the process.
Plausible. But for to justify a multi-million dollar industry, where's the proof?
See above. None of these arguments replace science.


I also don't get why it's worth waxing the topsides, when I'm not going to wax the deck because of reduced non-skid properties. Yes, there are non-skid waxes, but I fond them to be a pointless compromise.
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Old 23-10-2021, 10:20   #11
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaintedKite View Post
Quick question: we want to detail our 37' sloop above the waterline. One quote is $1000, and another quote is $1800. The difference is whether the surfaces get "compounded".

The $1000 quote gets us a wash/scrub and a wax, with some various other treatments (stainless, eisenglass, etc). The $1800 guys says, "Nope, you've got to remove the oxidation, or the wax won't stick." So he wants to buff/compound the smooth areas between cleaning and waxing.

Condition of surfaces: overall very good! It's a late-model boat. But it's been in FL for 10 months now. When you rub your hand over the surface, you get a white, chalky hand. Not a lot, but still...

I don't want to pay extra for the buffing if it's not needed. On the other hand, I don't want to pay the cheaper price for a waxing that proves to be ineffective.

So the question is, "Will wax stick to a clean but oxidized surface?"
My previous boat was a San Juan 28 and I would wax & buff the topsides at every two-year haul here in the Pacific Northwest. It would take me five trips around the hull to get the job done: Wash-rinse, Cleaner-apply & remove, Wax on, Wax off, and Buff. It would take me the entire day. Using local labor and material rates, what would an eight-ten hour work day cost you to do the job right? (That's why I did the job myself.)

When I sold the boat it was 28 years old and the topsides shined like a baby's ass.

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Old 23-10-2021, 10:31   #12
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

If oxidized it needs compounded. But you might get better results driving down the freeway and tossing $100 bills out.
I don't know if wax "sticks" but it disappears readily.
Even on shiny topsides the wax will last only a month or two...

I had a boat with a 1 year old paint job waxed. It was far cheaper back then. It lasted a minute...
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Old 23-10-2021, 11:40   #13
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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You do not want to wax over oxidized gelcoat. The wash/scrub will likely remove much of the oxidation, then the use of a cleaner/wax should be adequate when applied with a buffer/polisher. The $1800 guy is offering a much better job, both prices seem reasonable for a 37' boat.
This is true. And yes, it seems expensive… but there are a lot of man hours in a job done right - especially for a heavily oxidized boat. Products and process DO make a difference as well.

A few years back, I had already scheduled a full clean/polish/wax on my boat when I stumbled on a different company working on a boat on my dock. I asked if he would mind looking at my boat giving me a quick quote. I wasn’t sure if I was paying too much for the guy I had hired. He said I will do more than that. He came and looked at my boat, bringing his tools, and proceeded to mask off a small square. He quickly cleaned, polished, and then applied his wax. He said look for the square after your guy is done. And son of a gun, for the next year I had a freaking obvious shiny square on my boat that shone through the work of the other guy. He had a customer! Used him for several years at that location.

When I bought my current boat, I removed the previous name as well as large decorative stickers. I did a very minimal polishing job to try to get rid of the shadow. I applied an inexpensive synthetic automotive finishing product. Today - a year+ later - those are the only shiny spots on the boat. Both areas still bead water. Now, granted, this is SoCal, and not Florida.

The product I used was just sitting at home leftover from a previous vehicle I was cleaning up. There are now MUCH better and easy to apply products out there. I’ve currently gone down the rabbit hole of YouTube research, and there ARE folks who do long term testing of these products to help one choose.

And to the guys who don’t give 2cents about how their boat looks - Yeah… we see you. We also see the boats that are beautifully maintained and think WOW… THAT costs a lot! I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t have the time and don’t want to spend all my money on perfection. But I do want my boat to perform well, be well maintained, and look “good”. Peace out!
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Old 23-10-2021, 12:12   #14
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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...
And to the guys who don’t give 2cents about how their boat looks - Yeah… we see you. We also see the boats that are beautifully maintained and think WOW… THAT costs a lot! I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t have the time and don’t want to spend all my money on perfection. But I do want my boat to perform well, be well maintained, and look “good”. Peace out!
My boat is clean, there is no clutter or moss, everything operates flawlessly, and I sail weekly 12 months of the year. I also see boats that seldom leave the dock and boats on the hard... waxing. That is not sailing. That is the boat owning you, rather than you owning the boat. I question whether an eye-washy attachment to gleam is healthy. I asked about documented, independent testing showing that wax has ANYTHING effect on functional longevity. So far... crickets.


Perhaps the effort is better spent on hardware bedding, sail maintenance, electrical system repair and renovation, new upholstery, and the like. Things we know help. Or even saving for the next boat.


I guess it's like the makeup aisle... but for guys.


[I'm just having fun with this. Except for the question about studies, which I am very honestly interested in.]
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Old 23-10-2021, 13:19   #15
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Re: Will wax "stick" to chalky/oxidized FRP?

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My boat is clean, there is no clutter or moss, everything operates flawlessly, and I sail weekly 12 months of the year. I also see boats that seldom leave the dock and boats on the hard... waxing. That is not sailing. That is the boat owning you, rather than you owning the boat. I question whether an eye-washy attachment to gleam is healthy. I asked about documented, independent testing showing that wax has ANYTHING effect on functional longevity. So far... crickets.


Perhaps the effort is better spent on hardware bedding, sail maintenance, electrical system repair and renovation, new upholstery, and the like. Things we know help. Or even saving for the next boat.


I guess it's like the makeup aisle... but for guys.


[I'm just having fun with this. Except for the question about studies, which I am very honestly interested in.]


I actually agree with you mostly, though ironically I am actually drinking a beer while doing some cleanup AND polishing in my cockpit between lunch and surfing here. But frankly, quite enjoying my Saturday this way!

I find that the high traffic areas like the cockpit are easier to keep clean if they aren’t also heavily oxidized. But the majority of my boat is just in the “clean and serviceable” state currently. And yeah… too many of the boats on the docks never move… and several look like crap! Mine is exercised regularly!

I know that an auto paint job definitely lasts longer - and looks better in later years if well maintained. I’m not sure, and share your interest in whether or not the longevity of Gelcoat is in any way improved by wax or synthetic finishes. But, I do like a shiney appearance if it doesn’t require too much of my sailing time. Thus my current research.
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